Social-economic and ecological conceptual model

Integration of indigenous knowledge into scientific knowledge for development needs to capture both the ecological and socio-economic dimensions of socio-anthropogenic environmental indicators, ecological indicators, research assessments and decision making (Figure 10.1). The ecological indicators are of two types: diagnostic and those describing ecosystem functioning. Diagnostic indicators measure responses to land-use impacts. They vary in relation to grazing pressure with overall responses influenced by the overarching climate variability.64

The socio-economic and ecological conceptual model (SEEM) consists of three components. The first submodel comprises ecological and anthropogenic indicators that serve as proxy for rangeland production dynamics and for assessing human perceptions of environmental changes and livestock management. The model has tools for assessing indigenous knowledge- based environmental assessments and for decision-making. The indigenous knowledge submodel uses societal behavior, historical knowledge and general world views. The information is used to determine the suitability of the resource for specific uses related to, for example grazing, vulnerability to the system to disturbance (that cause environmental degradation) and the

228 Vectors, pests and environmental change

Conceptual model for the socio-economic and ecological model (SEEM) for integration of ecological and anthropogenic indicators for land-use assessments

Figure 10.1 Conceptual model for the socio-economic and ecological model (SEEM) for integration of ecological and anthropogenic indicators for land-use assessments.

capacity to maintain resilience. In the socio-economic submodel, the indicators are livestock production performances and land-use potential. The second part of the model represents the problems assessed and solutions reached at local levels. The actions from the first two model components can be fed into the third component of the model that reflect national and global actions. At the national level, the information from the indigenous knowledge, combined with ecological knowledge are fed into action plans that reflect national obligations related to the global level concerns (such as global convections). At the global level, information from the grassroots through national action plans serve as lessons for improving policy guidelines.

Most anthropogenic indicators are composites of ecological and management indicators that influence the perceptions of local herders regarding how they value a given landscape for grazing. The three types of indicators (including the anthropogenic ones) play important roles in decision making. Thus, anthropogenic indicators, representing human perceptions about the environmental change along with exogenous factors (e.g., needs and capabilities) feed into decision making about management of the grazing lands. This means that while the ecological indicators are value neutral, the anthropogenic indicators are value loaded. Using these varieties of indicators, local communities in collaboration with ecologists may link assessments of the impacts of global problems such as climate change and environmental changes at the local levels.6

In rangeland assessments, all herding societies have terminologies that describe the relationships between livestock grazing, landscape potential and what they call ‘grazing suitability.’ For any landscape, grazing suitability varies with livestock types and the seasons of the year. Landscapes with high grazing suitability for cattle (grazers) are likely to have low suitability for camels (browsers). Furthermore, the capacity of individual landscapes to support a given stocking density of livestock for a given period is influenced by its soils more than its vegetation, and this is called ‘landscape grazing potential.’ Thus, grazing suitability is a vegetation-based indicator (which varies highly between seasons), while landscape grazing potential is based on the physical environment and is thus a more stable indicator.66

The value (positive or negative) of suitability varies according to the type of landscape, and season for grazing, as well as types of livestock. Herders rated the suitability based on production indices of livestock (i.e., milk yield, weight changes and other physical changes such as conditions of body hair). The other indicators are those that reflect the capacity of the landscape to resist grazing pressure and remain resilient after use (called grazing capacity), which reflects stocking that individual landscapes support. The potential is inferred from a variety of variables, including soils, vegetation and experience. For example, the Maasai pastoralists distinguish between ‘degradation risky’ (engob orpora) and ‘less vulnerable landscapes’ (engob warkojete)—the terms that always refer to soils.

Finally, future research should be built on the resourcefulness of local knowledge that demonstrates greater potential for developing more sustainable pastoral and rangeland development than has hitherto been appreciated.6. The vision is what the pastoralists are themselves doing—which is a greater integration and diversification of pastoral livelihoods. Future research should focus on better understanding of peoples’ adaptive strategies that have helped them to cope better with socio-economic changes—including pastoralists’ participation in market economies, environmental management, education and greater integration into national and global economies, utilization of modern communication systems among many other initiatives. Addressing these broader issues would require a better integration of indigenous knowledge and socio-ecological knowledge systems to promote sustainable development in Africa, thereby avoiding being guided by false scientific theories such as the African environmental crisis.

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